How to Freeze Lemons: Zest & Juice

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When life hands you lemons (or any kind of citrus), zest ’em, juice ’em, make all kinds of good things with ’em. Here’s how to freeze lemons: the zest and the juice.

six meyer lemons on a blue checked cloth

Once upon a time, I grew up in a fairytale castle with a golden tree growing in the backyard….

Ok, so it wasn’t a castle, but gold really did grow in the backyard. Lemon gold. The lemon tree “came with the house,”and produced hundreds of lemons every year. 

Lemons are different than their citrus cousins in that you don’t typically eat them fresh. Instead, you use them as garnish or take their zest and juice to enhance both savory and sweet recipes. They are flavoring, if you will.

I learned pretty quickly that how to make the most of the treasure from the backyard. I taught myself to make Lemon Meringue Pie as well as Old-Fashioned Lemonade. But, one can only eat so much pie and drink so much lemonade.

tray of cheesecake squares with fresh berries

Pictured: Honey Lemon Cheesecake Bars Recipe

When you can’t use something up before it spoils, you have to find some way to preserve the harvest. Which prompts the question…

Can you freeze lemons?

While it’s not recommended to freeze whole lemons, you can freeze both the zest and the juice as well as slices encased in ice cubes.

When is lemon season?

Lemon season starts in fall and continues into spring, so no matter where you live (north of the equator), you should be finding those beautiful yellow globes at a lower price than normal right about now.

Stock up when you see a good sale (or get cozy with friends and neighbors with a backyard tree) and sock the extra away in the freezer.

How to Freeze Lemons: Zest & Juice

No matter the variety, I suggest these wonderfully freezer friendly options to freeze lemons or other citrus:

zesting a lemon on a tray with a microplane

Zest the citrus fruit.

Lemon zest contains a huge amount of flavor. It’s the colorful, oily part of the fruit’s skin that imparts lemony flavor into baked goods and savory recipes.

It’s best to zest the lemon before you juice it. However, as a kid I learned this the hard way. I also learned you can freeze the juiced half until firm and that will help you get the zest off if you did it backwards.

How to zest lemons:

  1. Wash the lemons well.
  2. Scrape off the zest with a zester or microplane. Don’t go too deep, into the white, that is bitter.
  3. Store it in an airtight container in your freezer to use in recipes throughout the coming months. 

You can do this for lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges, just store the different kinds of zest separately.

lemon halves on cutting board near juicer

Juice the fruit.

Lemon juice freezes beautifully. I regularly keep containers of juice in my freezer to pull out whenever we have a craving for lemonade or need to make Medicine Ball Tea.

  1. Wash the lemons well.
  2. With a powered citrus juicer for citrus or a manual citrus juicer, juice the lemons.
  3. Freeze it in small containers for later use. You can even freeze it in ice cube trays, transfer the lemon cubes to another container or a ziploc bag and return it to the freezer.
  4. Store the lemon juice in the freezer until ready to use.

lemon ice cubes in bag

Make lemon ice cubes.

You can freeze sliced lemons in water for the ideal infused spa water. The fruit flavors the water as the ice melts.

Head here for how to make Lemon Ice Cubes.

Best Lemon Recipes

Use the lemon juice and/or zest in these good cheap eats:

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Why did I never think to freeze the zest ?!? Great tip!

  2. WOW, I try not to get too jealous of other people, but to be able to have a lemon and/or lime trees in the back yard…I’m jealous. I live in PA and lemon trees just do not grow here. Oh the possibilities when you don’t have to pay the ridiculous price; they can be so expensive.

    I submitted a great grilling recipe:

    Thanks for the linkup.

  3. Thank you for hosting. I shared my lemon pepper shrimp scampi. I don’t have it often due to the price of shrimp. It’s a treat.

  4. Great tips! Did you know that by just adding a slice of lemon to water at the dinner table helps in digestion? I love that tip:-)

  5. Thanks for hosting! and for reminding me about the lime ginger marmalade recipe that I linked up. I really need to make that again. YUM!

  6. Dia says

    Oh, I am envious of the lemon tree. That would be so awesome compared to our pines!
    Thanks for the recipes, can’t wait to try them. I even found some Meyer lemons at Walmart recently that I get to try for the first time!

  7. I was so happy to see this post in my email this morning! I absolutely LOVE baking and cooking with lemons. My friends always joke with me and say “did you add lemon to it” 🙂 I submitted my Skinny Blueberry Lemon Muffins. They freezer perfectly too!

  8. Beth says

    Oh honey, Kansas City is hardly the frozen tundra. 🙂

  9. Erika says

    Perfect timing! I just harvested a ‘kings ransom’ of limes from our tree in Maui! I was thinking about dehydrating the zest, but freezing it seems like a better option for on the fly baking. Thanks for the post! =)

  10. Margie says

    If your oven has a “proof” setting, you can spread the zest on parchment paper and set for an hour or so, when it is cooled, store in a spice jar. ?

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